We all interpret the meaning of events, but unless we sincerely ask why, we’re bound to be blind to the circumstances leading to our present situation. At times the reasons are obvious—you cut your finger, so you bandage it. Other actions stem from more complicated causes. Let’s say the dry cleaner ruins your favorite shirt and you threaten to sue them. Your unexpected rage, however, might not be purely about the shirt itself, but more about the memories tied to the shirt, which belonged to your recently deceased best friend.

Asking why requires you to be curious (Tool 5.3). Your brain is wired to explain everything that happens to you, and to eliminate gaps in your understanding. When you encounter a situation, it immediately spits out a model of what has occurred, how, and why. Even though this model is by definition probabilistic, your lizard brain doesn’t know this. It often clings to one option and sees it as objective reality.

By taking the time and energy to dig deeper and question your initial interpretations, you open yourself up to see a larger picture, and consider options that would otherwise have been hidden from your sight.